2 Cor. 9:2-3 The welfare donations of Macedonia and Achaia
By way of review, Macedonia and Achaia are provinces of the Greek peninsula-Macedonia to the north and Achaia to the south. Paul is writing from Macedonia to the Corinthians in Achaia. Interestingly, he boasts to the Achaians about the welfare contributions of the Macedonians (2 Cor. 8:1-5) and he boasts to the Macedonians about the Achaians (2 Cor. 9:1-4), saying 'your zeal hath provoked very many'-meaning your example has inspired very many.
All of this is designed to encourage the saints to make a generous contribution. Paul's subtle tactic is to remind them of the contributions of the Macedonian churches to encourage them to match their contributions. He tells them how he has boasted about them to others and would hate to have done so in vain (if for instance, the Corinthian saints wouldn't make a sizeable contribution). And he tells them that he knows of their tendency to be generous when he speaks of 'the forwardness of your mind' (v. 1-2). All of this to gently and tactfully encourage the Corinthians to help with the welfare project.
2 Cor. 9:5 that they would go before...and make up beforehand your bounty
"Paul explains at some length that his purpose in going to Judea was to take a welfare donation from Macedonia and Achaia to the 'poor saints which are at Jerusalem.' ...in 2 Corinthians 9:1-15...Paul urges the Corinthian saints to get their donation ready beforehand so that he could obtain it when he arrived. The emphasis on these things brings us to another significant feature. Acts 11:27-30 makes scant reference to Paul as a welfare worker and mentions one occasion when with Barnabas he took a donation to the saints in Jerusalem. This was about A.D. 41 or 44 and was possibly Paul's earliest experience with welfare as a Church program. However, as indicated above, his epistles give evidence that in the years that followed he became a diligent welfare worker, collecting donations throughout Galatia (see 1 Cor. 16:1), Macedonia (see Rom. 15:25-26), and Greece (see 2 Cor. 9:1-5) for the Judean saints." (Robert J. Matthews, "St. Paul Writes about the Church," New Era, Apr. 1977, 33, 35)
2 Cor. 9:6 He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly
Carlos E. Asay
"We may apply the harvest law in a variety of ways. For example, the faithless person might say, 'The law is harsh and full of risk, so I will not plant at all.' Such persons are 'they [who] sow not, neither do they reap' (Matthew 6:26). And those lazy souls at the time of harvest may not be as fortunate as the ravens or other fowls of the air who are fed by someone else. Malnutrition and possible starvation may nip at their heels throughout life.
"Then there are those who are careless in the selection of their seeds. They neither read the labels on packages nor take the time to inspect the seed that will be placed in the ground. Consequently, they inadvertently and otherwise sow filthiness and later reap the chaff thereof in the whirlwind (see Mosiah 7:30). Perhaps these wanton planters are surprised occasionally by a sweet fruit or two, but bitterness is generally associated with the fruit of careless efforts.
"Still others plant cautiously, as if the seed would sprout better in their scrip than in the soil. They ignore the appendage to the law of the harvest taught by the Apostle Paul in these words: 'He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully' (2 Corinthians 9:6). Ofttimes, those who sow sparingly do so grudgingly and with selfish interests in their hearts. Their view is toward self, and their minds are blinded to the needs of children and future generations.
"The appeal voiced by this book is simple...Allow the seeds or practices to swell, sprout, and grow into perfecting and exalting performances. In due time, you will acknowledge the goodness of the seeds because they will get root, grow up into productive trees, and bring forth delicious fruit." (Family Pecan Trees: Planting a Legacy of Faith at Home [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1992], 233-234.)
2 Cor. 9:6 he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully
"Brother Todd Parker, my seminary teacher, was a pole vaulter. One day he brought his pole to our class. He pushed the end of the pole into a corner on the floor and pushed with all his might. The pole bent, but immediately snapped back, throwing Brother Parker across the room. 'You get out of it what you put into it,' he said as he started to bend the pole again. Then getting up a second time he repeated, 'You get out of it what you put into it!' He then taught us the Law of the Harvest: 'But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully' (2 Corinthians 9:6). What an incredible lesson! I knew that if I was going to have a successful mission, I would need to prepare now (the sowing) for the reward later (the reaping). If I desired the reward to be bountiful, I would need to work even harder." (Lisa Heckmann Olsen, Serving with Strength Throughout the World [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 174.)
Elder Elray L. Christiansen
"It was not long ago that I was in one of the stakes in southern Idaho. I was asked to interview five young men between twenty-five and thirty-five years of age, most of them married and having one or two children, to see if they were ready to receive an office in the Melchizedek Priesthood for which they had been recommended. I received the thrill of my life. Somehow, I decided-I don't know whether I made a mistake or not-but I decided to see what the depth of their willingness to sacrifice was. As each one came into the room, I sat down with him, introduced myself, and became better acquainted with him. Then I stated that the Church had acquired a great tract of land in Brush Creek and wished to prepare it for settlement for the Saints. The water had to be brought on to it, the brush had to be cleared and the land leveled, homes built, schools erected, and all things must be done from scratch. It will be no easy thing. I said: 'If you were asked to go, would take your wife and family and leave what you hve and go to Brush Creek and settle it?' Every one of those young men said yes.
"I said: 'What would your wife think about it?' In every case they said, in effect, 'I am sure she would feel as I do, that if the Church required it, we would go.' Then I explained that I had concocted the story.
"I felt like putting my arms around each of those young men. I commended them, and then I got down on my knees, and I thanked the Lord for such young men of this day who were ready to dedicate, to consecrate, to leave all that they had and go, no matter where they may be called to go and build up Zion. That is the test that we all should be ready to meet.
"There is a veritable army of men and women such as these in the quorums, in the missions, and in the wards and stakes, and in all places, where they serve without a thought of compensation There is no end to the list-the ward teachers, who do good jobs, all of those who serve, all of you. It is commendable, and it must be pleasing in the sight of the Lord. Among them, not to be overlooked, are those much unnoticed, unsung men and women, who day after day, month after month, year after year, labor in the temples of the Lord, giving vicarious service on behalf of the dead. Along with them are those who do research work, hiding behind desks and files, where nobody knows about them, spending hours and money and time and energy that the work might be perfected. It is one thing, you know, to do something for those who can return the goodness and who can thank you, but these people-this great arm of those who do vicarious service, with do not expect a return in thanks, at this time at least-I think win our mot sincere commendation and our admiration for that type of dedication.
"Paul has said that '. . . He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. . . let him give, not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.' (2 Cor. 9:6-7.)" (Conference Report, October 1955, Afternoon Meeting 123.)
Franklin D. Richards
"Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven, and in this respect financial sacrifice means opportunities for great and varied blessings. Certainly the sacrifices entailed in contributing to the building program of the Church, both of time and means, are outstanding examples of giving one's all...The question is frequently asked, are people as dedicated today in building the kingdom as they were in former times. I feel that generally they are giving [their] all [although] today may in some respects be different from heretofore, but I see evidences every day where men women, and children are showing their love of God and their fellow men by their complete dedication. They are gladly giving their all in time, talents and means. I commend them for it. I counsel all others to put the Church first in their lives and reap the peace happiness, and contentment that come from giving their all through complete dedication." (Conference Report, April 1964, Second Day-Morning Meeting 67.)
2 Cor. 9:7 so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity
The story is told of a man who had been pressed for weeks by his wife and his bishop to pay his tithing. Finally, exasperated, the man went into the bishop's office, slid the envelope across the desk, and said, "Here Bishop, here's your damn tithing!" The bishop calmly slid the envelope back across the desk, replying, "well if that's the way you feel about it, then you can keep your money. The Lord doesn't want it."
Elder Oaks reminded us, "'It is obeying God willingly that is accepted,' an anonymous writer has said. 'The Lord hates that which is forced-it is rather a tax than an offering.'" (Dallin H. Oaks, "Why Do We Serve?" Ensign, Nov. 1984, 14)
'For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.' (Moroni 7:8)
"We say to the Saints, do not pay Tithing, unless you want to; do not help to build up this Temple unless you want to; do not put forth your hands to one day's work, unless you want to. . . . If you grudgingly put forth your means to help to gather the Saints, it will be a curse to you." (Hugh Nibley, Brother Brigham Challenges the Saints, p. 460)
2 Cor. 9:7 God loveth a cheerful giver
Milton R. Hunter
"There is an old saying to the effect that 'the Lord loves a cheerful giver.' In the revelation on tithing, God admonished the saints to keep that law holy. According to Dr. James E. Talmage: 'The spirit of giving makes the tithe holy; and it is by means thus sanctified that the material activities of the Church are carried on.'
"Every Latter-day Saint should not only give his tithes unto the Lord freely, but he should do so with his heart full of joy and thanksgiving unto him from whom the bounteous blessings of life have been received. Faithful church members who really and truly love the Lord appreciate the opportunity to show him their deep gratitude by giving graciously of their tithes and offerings. All saints who have strong testimonies of the gospel experience an abundance of joy in rendering strict obedience to the tithing law; and that joy is sweet, real, and genuine. Parents receive joy by giving gifts to their children and by doing good things for them; and the hearts of children are made to rejoice and their lives are enriched whenever they bestow gifts upon their parents. So it is with our Eternal Father. Sweet is the feeling that accompanies a clear conscience of the godly saints who fully know that they have rendered obedience to God's holy laws. To quote the words of President Stephen L Richards:
"'Every man who pays his tithing should enjoy it. The gospel of Christ is a gospel of enjoyment. `Man is that he might have joy.` When one pays his tithing without enjoyment he is robbed of a part of the blessing. He must learn to give cheerfully, willingly, and joyfully, and his gift will be blessed.'" (Will a Man Rob God? [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1952], 102-103.)
Charles W. Nibley
"The Lord loveth a cheerful giver-one who can go to the bishop and say: 'Bishop, I feel all right. I want to help the Church. I am going to do all I can. Here is my tithing, my full tithing. I want to build up this work and be the means of helping it.' If he goes in that spirit, thankful for what he has received, he will obtain the blessing. But let him not give something merely in the hope of getting more in return, for that spirit will not do at all. Let him give in this spirit: 'Lord, thou hast blessed me. Here is thy portion. Of all that thou wilt give unto me, I will surely give a tenth unto thee.'" (Conference Report, October 1927, Afternoon Meeting. 90 - 91.)
2 Cor. 9:15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift
There is a difference between 'the gift of the Holy Ghost' (DC 33:15) and 'the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost' (DC 121:26). The gift of the Holy Ghost is administered by the laying on of hands to those who have been baptized. It teaches the individual spiritual knowledge. By this Spirit we understand that Jesus is the Christ; we learn that the Book of Mormon is the word of God; we are taught to pray and to do good. While the joy we feel from this Spirit may be inexpressible, the doctrines we learn are not unspeakable. We may freely speak of them to anyone who understands the things of the Spirit.
The unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost is different. All those who receive the gift of the Holy Ghost are entitled to the gifts of the Spirit, one of which is the unspeakable gift. It is a gift of revelation, prophecy, and knowledge whereby an individual is taught about things that 'cannot be written, neither can they be uttered by man' (3 Ne 19:34). This knowledge is so sacred that it is unlawful to speak of it. It is knowledge 'which has not been revealed since the world was until now' (DC 121:26). By this unspeakable gift, Paul ascended to the third heaven and 'heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter' (2 Cor. 12:4). By this unspeakable gift, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon saw 'great and marvelous' things which God commanded them not to write because it was 'not lawful for man to utter; Neither is man capable to make them known, for they are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit' (DC 76:114-116). By this unspeakable gift, the Nephites were taught great and marvelous things, declaring 'eye hath never seen, neither hath the ear heard, before, so great and marvelous things as we saw and heard Jesus speak unto the Father' (3 Ne. 17:15-18). By this unspeakable gift, those who have purified themselves and 'endured valiantly for the gospel of Christ' will someday have all things revealed unto them. This is the time when 'nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many gods, they shall be manifest. All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth' (DC 121:28-29). All of this and more will be revealed and understood by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost.